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I love all things sewing!  It's all about the creative journey.  All my blog posts are letters to my sewing alter-ego - Lola!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sew New and Don't Know What to Do!

Dear Lola,
As you know, I am “Sew New” to blogging that I most definitely don’t know what I am doing.  I’m still learning how to post, edit my posts, create hyperlinks and read comments.  Responding to posts from the wonderful folks who have stumbled upon my little blog has even been challenging! 

What a sweet surprise I got as I was reading my posts -  my very first follower – Teresa Codona of Common Quilts nominated me with this fun Liebster Blog Award! This award is for small blogs with less than 200 followers.  Since I have all of 2 followers – I believe I qualify as a small blog!  LOL!

All I can say to Teresa is Thank You from the bottom of my heart.  How fabulous to get a vote of confidence at such an early point in my blogging life!  I can't wipe this silly grin off my face!  This was like winning a blue ribbon or heck even an Academy Award!  Life is good!

As a way to network - it's my turn to nominate 5 small blogs for the Liebster Award! Here are some of the blogs I visit when I am Sew Sleepless. They've inspired me in sew many ways. Finding other small blogs encouraged me to dive right in and give blogging a try! I hope you will enjoy them, too!

1.         Quilting in The Cold – Being from Finland – she knows about Quilting in the Cold!

2.         Poppy and Poochie – Cute, fun and enthusiastic blog!

3.         Jeliquilts – Love all the creativity here!

4.         Betty at Anything Goes – Stumbled on this blog from the Netherlands!  Bright!

5.         Love to Color My World by Ellie – Great photos, great read!

And there you have it – my 5 Liebster Blog Awards.  By the way, I hope I have done this right!  My intentions are good.   

Sew glad I’m out here in the blogosphere.
Hugs and stitches,
Sew Sleepless

A Tale of Two "Sewing Cities"

A Creative Journey

Oh Lola,
In my wildest dreams, I never thought I could travel to so many interesting sewing destinations!  These destinations don’t even require any “real” travel.  I learned I could create my very own “sewing cities” with creative techniques, broken rules and just plain fun!

As you know, my personal sewing compass is all over the place.  I decided a long time ago to expose myself to as many sewing opportunities as possible.  I have tried heirloom sewing, garment sewing, quilting, machine embroidery and machine applique to name a few.  Some techniques deserve to be revisited and others are yet to be discovered.  My latest discoveries are very outside the box for me, and fall into the category of “Art Quilting”.

The first new sewing destination came to me through a class taught by Susan Powell at Thimble Pleasures in Chapel Hill, NC. The class, titled Cityscapes was a marriage of unstructured or free form quilting, art quilting techniques and machine applique.  The class was a wonderful opportunity to sew without rules.  Susan introduced herself as someone who prefers to sew without structure.  I loved her the minute she told the class,  “There are no mistakes and there are no rules!”  Our class journey began with new ways to look at fabrics. Thinking about colors and patterns as building blocks – literally – was a very interesting notion to me.  My eye was awakened to think of fabrics as windows, doors, roofs and roads.  Scale and form could be anything that struck my fancy.  The truly great thing about creating fabric buildings – no structural engineering required! 

Sewing and cutting without a definitive pattern was so liberating.  My buildings could be whatever I wanted them to be!  Motifs within my cityscape could go in any direction.  Seam allowances didn’t matter and straight cutting should be avoided!  My fellow students and I shared ideas, fabrics and one of the most collaborative classes I have ever attended.  Each of us had brought various fabrics to use, but before the day was out, little pieces of my stash found themselves into the artwork of my classmates and vice versa.  It was so fun to offer each other both encouragement and little bits of fabric.  When I look at my Cityscape, I can’t help remembering Susan, Sharyn, Nicole, Mary and all my other collaborators.  They each lent a serendipitous contribution to my finished art quilt that is both magical and memorable.  I loved this project so much; I plan on making more Cityscapes in the future. 


My second “sewing city” is a more whimsical but no less creative destination.  I arrived here via Karen West’s class, Fusible Applique Houses, also offered at Thimble Pleasures.  Karen’s samples opened new creative horizons for all of us.  Until that moment, I just never thought, I’d want a fabric with dogs or cats on it!  Remember – “never say never!”

The process was somewhat similar in that the rules were very outside the lines of conventional sewing rules.  I learned that Wonder Under and Fast 2 Fuse are my friends.  I also learned that it stinks to gum up your iron with sticky goo! I gained a new and serious appreciation for free-motion applique techniques and found even more ways to look at fabric as a building material!  My imagination grew whimsical wings and took flight!  I named my finished project – House of Possibilities. 

This class was another triumph of collaboration, sewing sisterhood, and creativity.  Thinking of fabrics as treetops, grass, roofs, flowers, windows and pets was like a trip into a fantasyland.  Layering and fusing the fabrics created a canvas for stitching details that brought the scenes to life.  I felt like Mary Poppins – ready to jump into the scene and explore the little worlds each of us created.  How fun it was to sew a perfect little house built entirely by the threads of my imagination.  Seeing how my classmates, Nicole, Debbie, Diane, and Bonnie liberated little butterflies, bunnies, puppies and kitties from their fabrics, helped me to think of my fabrics as characters with stories to tell! 

House of Possibilities

After my metaphorical travels, I find my creativity invigorated.  I am open to new techniques that will further my sewing journey.  I can’t wait to travel to my next “sewing city” and meet other sister travelers along the way.  All that’s required – a little imagination, a few scraps and a desire to “sew” out into the world!

Hugs and stitches,
Sew Sleepless 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Just In Case

Just in case…

Dear Lola (my sewing alter-ego),
Deciding to join a Block of the Month Club – may seem like no big deal to others – but this is a huge commitment for me.  Not only, must I complete a block each month, but I must step completely outside my sewing comfort zone.  I usually like to complete easy, simple, instant-gratification type projects.  These blocks are hard for someone like me.  They include things like HST and QST (half-square triangles and quarter-square triangles) and even flying geese!  (A new mantra for travelling on the yellow brick road is born:  HST, QST and flying geese, oh my!)  Quarter inch seems are imperative and finished blocks have exact measurements.  This project is not fudgeable – is that a word?  There is no fudging the results!  This project will take me more than 12 months to complete and ultimately cost me way more than I’d like to think about!  It will lead me to find a professional quilter and possibly a psychiatric chair! lol!

After 4 finished blocks, I can honestly say, Lola, you’d be proud of what I have accomplished so far.  The fabric for block number 5 is sitting on my worktable, staring at me at this very instant.  This fabric is daring me to get started! This month’s block includes my first-ever flying geese.  I’m a nervous wreck, but I have hedged my bets – I have purchased extra fabric – “just in case”. 

This “just-in-case” strategy appears to be wide spread in the world of sewing.  I can honestly say that whenever I am standing in line at a cutting table in a fabric store waiting for service, I always hear the customer in front of me saying something like, “well the pattern calls for ½ yard, but you’d better give me a yard – just in case.”  Fabric store employees are also excellent in chanting their mantra, “it’s always a good idea to buy extra.”  The support for just-in-case fabric is everywhere.  I hear sister-shoppers saying, “You’d better get it now, or you’ll be sorry” or the very scary, “I once didn’t purchase enough fabric and I couldn’t finish my project.”

The “just-in-case” fabric wards off cutting anxiety.  I love having this insurance; it’s almost as good as sewing super powers!   This is all leading up to the earth shattering, sewing-life question: 

Will I ever get beyond needing “just-in-case” fabric?

My intuition tells me – probably not!  The “just-in-case” strategy is part of my everyday life in all I do! It is who I am! I always prepare extra food; purchase the family size; keep an umbrella in my car; keep extra toilet paper hidden in my closets; ask for extra napkins in restaurants, and carry “mad” money in my wallet.  I always bring more supplies to sewing classes than are required, and I keep my gas tank filled to the top.  I am definitely a “just-in-case” type of person!

As my Michael Miller Clubhouse quilt progresses, and I hope ultimately gets finished, I am glad to have my “just-in-case” fabric.  Because without it, I think I would be too paralyzed with cutting fear to tackle my monthly blocks.  And besides – I may just have enough “just-in-case” fabric to make a matching set of pillows!

Hugs and stitches,
Sew Sleepless

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Relax - The Water is Fine

“Relax - the water is fine,” is what my sewing alter ego, Lola would say.  I’ve been thinking about trying a blog for a few years now and in every conversation I had with myself, I would find too many disqualifying questions to proceed.  Here are a few examples of the questions that stalled me:

  • Who will read it?
  • What intelligent things will I talk about?
  •  Do I have the stamina to stick with it?
  •  Isn’t it too pretentious?
  •  Am I creative enough?

Sewing in my home is an individual sport.  As the mother of 3 boys, with only 1 left in the nest, our group activities tend to involve action movies, sports and car-pooling to the first two on the list.  My boys (that includes hubby) have never bonded with me over my need to craft and create.  They support me, but from afar!

When I am in my sewing space, I find myself having conversations with my imaginary friend, Lola.  I didn’t name her originally – she was just some creative muse who listened to what I said, without a critical ear and of course, she never talked back.  Qualities that are totally underrated!  Every once in a while, my son or husband might walk by and inquire, “Whom are you talking to?”  I started out saying, “No one.” And then I realized, my steadfast friend and sewing companion regardless of her imaginary status, deserved a name and Lola was born.

There are many great things about Lola.  There is her fearlessness, her creativity, her ambition, her sensitivity and her serenity.  She is motivational.  She reminds me that every mistake I make is a learning opportunity.  She didn’t even laugh at me that time I sewed the sleeve to the neck hole!   Lola can be all the things I long to be and I find that if I hang out with Lola long enough – she rubs off on me just a little.  As we all know – a lot of “littles” add up to a lot! 

So I recently had my “blog conversation” with Lola.  She addressed each reservation on my list: “Who cares if no one but you reads it.  I listen to you all the time and you seem intelligent to me.  Stamina isn’t vital to a blog, I’m pretty sure there aren’t any “blog police”.  If you are honest, you won’t sound pretentious.  And finally, doesn’t a blog help you become more creative?” 

I have to admit Lola is right.  So why not relax and dive in – the water is fine!  So here I am, entering the world of blogging!  Since Lola believes in the experiment and she’s so easy to talk to, from here on out – all my posts will be addressed to Lola.  If you are reading any of my posts – you are a Lola of sorts!  You are a sewing sister/sistah or brother/brotha– someone who embraces the creative odyssey that is sewing.

When I took up sewing, just for kicks and an estrogen fix, I had no idea where it would lead me.  I love it all.  I still haven’t found that one type of sewing that’s so special it’s all I want to do.  I find I love the exploration of many, many techniques.  In fact, I’m so “all in” I find that I can’t sleep many, many nights. I have so many ideas and projects floating around in my head.  I read every magazine, book, blog and forum I can get my eyes on!  If I can actually be sewing, I'd rather be thinking about! So just call me:

Sew Sleepless!